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'All the manifesto policies, except Fine Gael's...'

Hugh O'Connell


Seeds of dozens of political crises in the years ahead are being sown at this moment as coalition talks begin

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TWO OUT OF THREE AIN’T BAD: Fianna Fail’s Micheal Martin, Fine Gael’s Leo Varadkar and Sinn Fein’s Mary Lou McDonald. Photo: Frank McGrath

TWO OUT OF THREE AIN’T BAD: Fianna Fail’s Micheal Martin, Fine Gael’s Leo Varadkar and Sinn Fein’s Mary Lou McDonald. Photo: Frank McGrath

TWO OUT OF THREE AIN’T BAD: Fianna Fail’s Micheal Martin, Fine Gael’s Leo Varadkar and Sinn Fein’s Mary Lou McDonald. Photo: Frank McGrath

The venue for Fianna Fail and Fine Gael’s historic coalition talks could not be more appropriate.

The spacious room in Agriculture House on Dublin’s Kildare Street is the same one used for meetings of the National Emergency Coordination Group, the cross-government body mobilised to respond to extreme weather events. Negotiators from both parties sat down there this week to discuss how to respond to an emergency on an entirely different scale.

The detail of their much-anticipated framework document is being hammered in person with social distancing rules applied. “That’s been done since the civil war,” joked one source who is heavily involved. All the usual buzz words are trotted out by those taking part — ‘workmanlike’, ‘cordial’ and ‘a unity of purpose’.